By Jake Rushing
Before I jump into this, I want to clarify that Last Token Gaming never waded into GamerGate situation back in 2014, so we are impartial to this situation. Even so, we at Last Token Gaming encourage one another to put effort into making internet a nicer place to be at when one needs to escape their daily grind. No matter which way you lean in politics, or no matter how you feel about anybody, every single human being that surfs through the net deserves a good space to wind down and escape without any fear, as every human being has a story on why they escape to the internet. Now with that out of the way, let’s get into the review.
There is a lot more to this book than what the synopsis tells you. Even going into it I thought it was just going to be the GamerGate conflict as told through the author’s side, as there is more than one side for every conflict. I was curious to see Zoe Quinn’s account on how the GamerGate scenario went down, as I didn’t know too much about it (as I was afraid to ask at the time), and yet I have gotten more than what I have paid for, as she even goes in details about what she has learned about GamerGate from going through years worth of harassment, as well as diving into the psyche that goes into internet mobs, or how people like Internet Inquisitors can help generate controversial content for the sake of views.
For those who haven’t followed the events of GamerGate, the whole event went down in August 2014, after her relationship between her former boyfriend has ended. Her former boyfriend made a blog post that painted Zoe Quinn in a negative light that has caused hundreds of men to cause harassment towards Zoe Quinn in any form imaginable.
Her earlier years weren’t exactly all sunshine and rainbows. Without going into too much detail, her experience growing up as part of a LGBT member in a small town is what led her into some troubles. At the very least, these troubles and her earlier geekery of all video games helped mold her into a game developer, a game developer that eventually made Depression Quest. Depression Quest was developed and released to the masses before managing the chaos that was caused by GamerGate.
Dealing with what seemed like forever barrage of campaigns that aimed to discredit Zoe Quinn, or anybody that would dare defend Zoe Quinn in one way or another, from making a “prank” known as Five Guys and Lies (referencing the allegation that Zoe slept with 5 guys from Zoe’s former boyfriend), to sending Zoe’s modeling photos from her modeling days to people, and to even make edits on her Wikipedia page, mainly listing her death date that would lie on the same day as her upcoming public appearance.
A portion of this book also dives into her activist efforts, from creating an online crisis network to help anybody targeted for online harassment, to working with tech companies to help lend a hand for trying to curb harassment, and to working with lawmakers to get them up to speed on the ever changing landscape of internet in order to help out people getting harassed online. It is certainly a lot of work to help quell down the flames from the online harassers. The work is a mixed bag in terms of outcome. On one hand, it certainly made a lot of effort to make online harassment more visible than before. On the other hand, there really wasn’t much that anyone can do beyond that, especially when there isn’t enough context provided by harasser to make tech companies enforce the takedown.
From her experiences of dealing with GamerGate, she was able to provide tips on how to protect yourself from getting doxed, and how to minimize the damage caused by doxing should you end up in the crosshairs of a mob. There is not much to go over in that aspect, and I haven’t been in a situation where this is needed, so I can’t speak for the helpfulness. However, I can imagine that all of the advice on how to help with your digital hygiene.
Zoe Quinn manages to make all of her experiences described above more relatable with her candid sense of humor, while showing restraint for those who have attacked her. Sometimes she manages to show that restraint by resorting to that same humor. It may be counterintuitive to throw humor in a story that is horrifying in many senses, but she has managed to be moderate with her humor, which helped kept the seriousness of the story intact. Her sense of humor may not be for everyone, it has certainly made me chuckle several times throughout the story.
Certainly her strongest points of her book came from just retelling of her experience. For the reason why a lot of people picked up this book, telling about what happened to the author during the ordeal, as well as events that made her a person into this ordeal was enough for readers to pick up. Sprinkling some of the humor throughout the book did help keep the interest. And listing down how to protect yourself from getting doxed, or help keep the flames of a dumpster fire down to a minimum when crap hits the fan anyway, certainly helps keeps anybody interested, especially those who could be doxed.
As good as a book as it might be, it’s not perfect, as it does have least memorable parts. The chapter titled “I Was A Teenage Shitlord” didn’t really do much to add to the story. The only thing that the chapter establishes is how Zoe Quinn herself used to push buttons of people online when she was younger, although to a lesser extent than a lot of Gamergate people. For reasons why this portion of her life was included in the book, I suppose it is just justifiable enough to include what you did as a teenager to other people online in the book. On the other hand though, this part doesn’t really mesh as well as other parts in this book. There might have been other minor weak points in the book too, but they would soon be forgotten by everything else that Zoe Quinn put down on this book.
This is certainly a great book worth picking it up. It covers a lot of elements on Zoe Quinn’s first hand experiences in dealing with constant harassment. This story is certainly not for the faint of heart, as she goes deeper into some details than others. If you have managed to at least get exposed to the darker side of the internet, then you can take what the book throws at you. Zoe goes over every event in a more personal and more relatable way. She puts a lot of work into research and it does show in her book. If there is one thing to take away from this, is that no matter if you have done anything wrong or not, no one deserves to get harassed to the point of hiding in a elevator shaft or crashing on other people’s couches. For people who go to the internet to escape their daily lives (and will be doing so for an unforeseeable amount of time), so the internet must be treated like it’s someone else’s home.